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October 2006 Vol 45 no 4


RELATIONSHIPS IN GOD

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Contents

Id quod volo: The Erotic Grace of the Second Week

During the Second Week of the Exercises, we are called to grow in the love of Christ-it is only on this basis that good discernments about discipleship can be made. Rob Marsh uncovers some erotic elements in the Ignatian process, and offers directors of the Exercises some provocative suggestions about love.

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Pierre Favre and the Experience of Salvation

Michel de Certeau (1925-1986) began his distinguished academic career with studies of two great French-speaking Jesuit figures in the history of spirituality: Jean-Joseph Surin (1600-1665) and Pierre Favre (1506-1540). To mark Favre’s centenary, we publish in English this classic, eloquent article which brings out the relational warmth of Favre’s spiritual personality.

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Ignatian Spirituality and Positive Psychology

Classically, psychology has often focused on how people’s lives are going wrong; by contrast, Positive Psychology, an approach developed in the last decade, aims to build on what is going well in our lives. A theologian and a Jesuit psychologist explore the convergences between this new psychological approach and Ignatian spirituality.

Marital Spirituality: A Paradigm Shift

Married people today are discovering and claiming a genuine spirituality at the heart of their relationships. As they do so, they are inaugurating a quite new way of understanding spirituality.

That They May Be One: An Interchurch Marriage

Ruth and Martin Reardon were founder members of the Association of Interchurch Families. Ruth here writes of how she and Martin met and fell in love, and of how a genuine interchurch marriage became possible during the Conciliar period.

Kierkegaard the Celibate

Celibacy should not be a state of mere singleness, but rather a rich form of relatedness to God and to God’s people. Tom Casey explores what celibacy meant for Søren Kierkegaard, the noted Danish philosopher.

Cities and Human Community: Spirituality and the Urban

Human life is becoming increasingly urban, a point with profound spiritual implications. What is the Christian vision of the good city? What makes for enriching human relationships and the fulfilment of authentic desire in the circumstances of modern urban life?

Prayer and Ecology

A distinguished French Cistercian reflects on the deep connections between the life of prayer and an appreciation of God’s gifts in nature and creation.

Animals as Grace: On Being an Animal Liturgist

It is a commonplace to think of spirituality as bound up with human relationships, and also with creation as a whole. But what of other created beings such as animals? A leading writer in the field of animal theology explores the question of animals and Christian liturgy.

 

From the Foreword

Throughout 2006, the Ignatian family has been marking the 450th anniversary of Ignatius’ death, and also the fifth centenary of the births of his first two companions, Pierre Favre (1506-1546) and Francis Xavier (1506-1552). In some ways, the first three issues of The Way this year have echoed the special gifts of these three figures in turn. An issue on ‘Directing the Imagination’ in January evoked the remarkable sensitivity of Pierre Favre as a spiritual director; ‘Ignatian Experimenting’ in April was centred on Ignatius’ quite specific programme of formation for ministry; and ‘Exploring Difference’ in July took up the missionary thrust of Christianity towards new frontiers, as exemplified by the remarkable journeys of Francis Xavier. But the celebrations were always intended to recall not simply these three remarkable personalities in their own right, but also the fact that their charisms and gifts grew out of a powerful mutuality between them. Their spiritual genius was nurtured in relationship. Hence The Way’s principal celebration of the jubilee comes in this present Special Number: Relationships in God

This issue celebrates Favre personally by making available a classic introduction to his work written by the noted French Jesuit intellectual Michel de Certeau. More generally, it looks at different ways in which relationships and spirituality enrich each other. Robert Marsh points us to an ‘erotic’ grace even in the Ignatian Second Week; Thomas Knieps-Port le Roi and Ruth Reardon both look at spirituality and marriage; Thomas Casey explores how Søren Kierkegaard lived out a vocation to loving celibacy. Other pieces look at how Ignatian spirituality might interact with one modern psychological approach to relational growth known as Positive Psychology, and at relationships in the modern city. Finally we consider a set of relationships that are important and that arguably the Christian tradition has neglected: our relationships with the world of nature and with the animal kingdom.

To speak of relationships in the spiritual life is not uncontroversial. Favre and the first Jesuits lived at a time when intercession in the Christian life was being radically called into question. And surely the Reformers had a point: Catholic talk of the saints can easily slide over into the manipulative or the superstitious. Yet there must be a fundamental rightness in how Favre’s prayer is nourished by memories of human goodness. If God has called the whole creation into being, if God’s purpose is being worked out in all that God has made, then the path to God must of its very nature draw us into ever more intense communion.

 

Philip Endean SJ

 

 

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